Marie Petterson is speaking at the NBAS /Innovation Norway- event Access new markets and opportunities – from Singapore on May 19th. We spoke to her about everything technology, strategy and the Asian markets.
NBAS board member Marie Petterson has spent her entire career in the tech industry. She initially worked with hardware and telecommunications, before transitioning to software. With experience from scale-ups and larger companies alike, one may say that Marie has done it all. She is now General Manager, Asia Pacific, for Kezzler, which started expanding to the region in 2019.
For the past decade, Marie has been working with Asian markets. When she arrived in Singapore in 2012, she “knew nothing about the market.” At the time, she relocated from Norway with security software vendor Symantec, as her EMEA experience was a good fit for the Asia-Pacific team. Since then, Marie has worked with several markets in the region, building go-to-market strategies for companies to grow their business.
What should Norwegian companies be aware of when entering Asia?
“The most important thing to remember, is that Asia is not homogeneous,” says Marie. The Asian markets are highly diverse, with differences in culture, price levels, purchasing power, maturity of technology, consumer needs, and more. The choice of market is therefore highly dependent on your goals and the type of product you can provide.
Marie adds that the go-to-market strategies will look very different depending on the choice of market. For example, the drive to digitalize may be lower in some countries like Indonesia and India, with an abundance of manual labour, than in Singapore and China. Even within South-East Asia, there are different price levels, business customs, and languages. Moreover, while rules and standards are largely harmonized within the EU, this is not the case within Asia. For this reason, one may need different approaches, and even different teams, for different markets.
In what instances should Norwegian companies consider Singapore?
According to Marie, Singapore is an ideal base for companies. “It is highly international, all business is being conducted in English, and it feels familiar,” she states. Moreover, as Singapore is the Asia headquarter for many multinational companies, including a community of Norwegian companies, there is a large network to tap into. Marie states that the network aspect, combined with good Singaporean support mechanisms, make for a smooth establishment phase.
However, she adds, Singapore may not be the right first move for all companies. While it is beneficial for countries that wish to expand to a mix of Asian companies, it is for example not necessary if your only goal is the Chinese market.
What are the criteria for success for a good scale-up?
Marie tells us that she believes in two aspects, in particular. “The first is the commercial strategy,” she states. “Many have good technical skills and great products, however it is crucial to have partners who understand the commercial aspects.” At the end of the day, if you cannot commercialize, you cannot sell your products.
“The second is execution,” Marie says. Many companies have big ideas, but lack the implementation capabilities. In addition, it is easy to be too ambitious, wanting to do everything at once. Instead, she has learnt that it is beneficial to your efforts, taking one market and one partner at a time. “It is important to be brave enough to de-select something,” she explains.
If you want to learn more from Marie, sign up for Access new markets and opportunities – from Singapore.